Steve runs through another selection of vehicles which defines Britain.
Triumph Dolomite Sprint
Launched in 1972 until 1980 the Dolomite Sprint was a performance saloon car designed to be the BMW M3 of its day. Fitted with a 1.8 litre 4 cylinder 127bhp engine and 4 speed gearbox with optional over drive and double wishbone suspension it was a great little machine but fragile. As you'd expect it also had success in racing, winning the Touring Car drivers championship in 1975. It also takes the credit of being having the first multi valve mass produced engine and to the engine credit, a version of it was still being used by Saab up until it went into receivership.
Green Goddess - Bedford RLHZ
The Green Goddess is a fire engine built by Bedford on their RL platform for the Auxiliary Fire Service after the Second World War between 1953-1956 and were kept in reserve by the Home Office up until 2004. In 1977 and 2002 the Green Goddesses saw action under the command of the Army during the Fire Service strikes. The Green Goddess was finally retired in 2004 when the Fire and Rescue Service Act was passed forcing Fire Services to make their vehicles available for use even when staff are on strike. However, that was not the end of the story as a lot of the Green Goddesses were shipped to Africa for fire Service duties.
The SD1 was an executive car built between 1976-1986 to replace the Rover P6 that featured styling allegedly taken from the Ferrari Daytona and was the last true rover to be built at the Solihull plant. The styling was praised both by the press and public as well as having a good variety of engines in 4 cylinder, 6 cylinder or 3.5 V8 variety meant the SD1 proved popular with fleet customers and police Forces. On one occasion a SD1 carrying a liver from Stanstead airport to Cromwell Hospital in Kensington completed the 27 mile journey across London in 30 minutes. The SD1 was also used successfully in both British Touring Cars and British Rally Championships during the 1980s.
Rover 75/MG ZT
Another Rover, this time the last large MG/Rover car to be built in the UK The Rover 75 and sportier looking variant the MG ZT were designed by BMW for the executive car sector, and was available with a 4 cylinder, 6 cylinder or Ford Mustang 4.6 V8 and was built between 1999-2005 up to the point MG/Rover went into receivership. Three body styles were offered which included saloon, estate and long wheel base also known as the Vanden Plas which was 200mm longer in the rear passenger compartment. this model proved popular with the British Government and was used by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair. A MG ZT-T (estate) managed to break the land speed record for non production estate car reaching a top speed of 225.609mph.
Just like the FX4 Taxi mentioned on our first quintessentially British vehicles list, another strong symbol of Britain is a red Routemaster double decker bus which were a pioneering design when launched, and a common sight in London from 1956 up to their withdrawal from public service in 2005. such is the Routemasters popularity with the British public is featured in a list of top ten of British design icons along side the Mini and Concorde.
The Austin Healey is a sports car built by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) between 1959-1967 across 3 versions and ceasing production when BMC ceased trading. The Healey was available either a 2 seater or 2+2 with the most popular engine of a 3.0 litre. The Healey proved very popular in America with 91% of the Healey models being exported there. it also found success in circuit racing in the UK, Australia and America.
Yet another convertible graces our list but this one is both pioneering yet controversial. The Stag is a 4 seater convertible which was also fitted with a metal hard top giving the impression of a coupe. the car was pioneering for the T top roll over bar design which allegedly saved the convertible car market in the USA which at the time was under threat from being banded due to roll over safety concerns. The Stag was mainly available with a V8 engine to cater for the American market but this was to be the cars biggest drawback. The engines were notorious for overheating and having the cylinder head weld to the block due to excessive heat amongst other issues, but non the less it has developed a cult following in the UK due to its practicality and gorgeous design.
Compared to the other vehicles on this list I have collectively included all Ford Escort variants within this list. The Escort was a economy family car built between 1968-2004 over 6 generations and was available as a hatchback, saloon, estate, van and disabled access vehicle. The Escort managed to claim the title of Britain's most popular car away from British Leyland's 1100. Not all models were based on economy car ethics though, as various sporty models were offered such as the RS1600, RS1800, Mexico, RS2000 and RS Cosworth to name but a few. The Escort also proved it self to be a very competitive rally car and the Mk1/Mk2 were the most successful.
The successor to the MGA the MGB was available as a coupe known as the MGB GT, roadster MGC and performance model known as the MGB V8 and were built between 1968-1980 but did make a comeback by Rover from 1992-1995 as a limited edition roadster V8 known as the RV8. The MGB was pioneering as it was one of the first cars to incorporate crumple safety zones into its design. The MGB was also successful in racing and notably one the 1000 miles guards race at Brand Hatch in 1965.
The Interceptor was a grand tourer built by Jenson in Birmingham between 1966-1976 in mk1, 2 and 3 which were available either as a hatchback, coupe or convertible. All Interceptor models were fitted with Chrysler V8 engines mated to a 4 speed manual or 3 speed automatic gearbox and were well equipped for their day, benefitting from electric windows, power steering, radio plus 2 speakers and a wood rimmed steering wheel all as standard with options of air conditioning or anti lock brakes. The latter, made the interceptor the first car in the world to have a form of anti lock braking system (ABS). The interceptor was the first production car to be fitted with a four wheel drive system and traction control.
I hope you enjoyed the second installment of our quintessential British vehicles series and don't be disappointed if your favorite didn't make the list as there will be a third and final installment.